On Cinema and Popular Culture With Kerem Topuz
The newest member of the Art50.net family and a cinema professional, the artist Kerem Topuz focuses on contemporary consumerism and popular imagery. We deeply enjoyed our conversation with Topuz on subjects ranging from Pop Art to Capitalist Critique.
How did your transition from cinema to visual arts take place?
Actually it’s the other way round. Before I became involved in cinema, my earliest works were video works and installations. Then I became a cinema professional; since it requires intense labor, I started to have difficulty finding time for my works in visual arts. In the last 2 years that followed my decision to focus exclusively on my own projects, I have been working in both areas. I’m currently almost done with the preparations of filming Lavinia, my new movie. Most probably, around the time this interview will be online, I will be at the movie set for shooting it.
In your works, your interest in Pop Art is highly pronounced. Do you think the 21st century was as successful as the 20th at producing myths? And why?
Yes, and very much so; we are so deeply immersed in our modern environment of myths, we currently have a hard time grasping what is a myth and what is not. The 20th century’s age of adorable, legendary heroes is over and it’s replaced by ‘all innovations’ that are extraordinary, exciting and hard to reach. For instance, a brand new product entering the market, and the lifestyles invented for the sake of owning that product are myths in their own right. Commercials are busy pumping the messages, the ways of reaching these lifestyles and all the other things we would be able to do if and only if we owned those products. Thus today’s myths are not the iconic figures but cellphones, curiosity for other people’s lives and gossip…
Speaking of advertising, concepts like Kitsch, consumer culture and popular imagery that are often manifest in your works are also an important part of the language of advertising. Have you ever shot a commercial?
Yes, I did. Thus I’m close to that world and that language; but I use the same language against them, to criticize them.
In your work also refers to the commodification of female body and its reduction to a sexual object…
In fact, my works have related meanings and are part of a coherent whole. Just like today’s capitalist market economy imposes on us its ideals by using its very myths to increase its profits, it also uses the female body and its sexuality within the same context, to increase consumption via socio-cultural codes. Sexuality is very profitable. By envisioning the beauty and the standardized body image that translates into objects of sexual pleasure and consumption, the capitalist system also creates a commodity out of them. Presenting the female body as a primarily visual, attractive bust also facilitates the sales of those methods and prıoducts we use to reach that ideal body. This is why I underline my critique through the visual imagery of female bodies. To illustrate the scale of the commodity fetishism… For example I make a portrait of a product instead of a woman as a sexual object, or I prefer a model to that of a real body.
You also produce works in video art. How do they relate to your collages?
My videos are mostly project-driven and they emerge relatively more spontaneously; they don’t refer to a specific form of system critique. But I’m thinking about them, about the things I can do next… The fact that I use found video footage relates them to my collages.
Your favorite artists?
I’m particularly attracted to an artist’s sincerity and creativity… Thus I can mention Aleksandra Kingo, Molly Scannell, Haluk Akakçe, Kuzma Vostrikov and Aaron Tilley.
How did you come across Art50.net? Your thoughts on online platforms?
I discovered Art50.net while conducting research on the internet on contemporary artists from Turkey. Internet is one of the most dominant things in our lives nowadays. Therefore, online platforms are a true blessing for an artist. It gives your work the opportunity to reach a much larger audience it can’t normally reach under ordinary circumstances. And for collectors and art enthusiasts, it is a great opportunity for making new discoveries independent of time and location constraints.
Click for the artist’s page.